Double prevention and powers

Journal of Critical Realism 8 (3):277-293 (2009)
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Abstract

Does A cause B simply if A prevents what would have prevented B? Such a case is known as double prevention: where we have the prevention of a prevention. One theory of causation is that A causes B when B counterfactually depends on A and, as there is such a dependence, proponents of the view must rule that double prevention is causation.<br><br>However, if double prevention is causation, it means that causation can be an extrinsic matter, that the cause and effect need not be connected by a continuous chain of events, that there can be causation by absence, and that there can be causation at a distance. All of these implications jar with strong intuitions we have about the nature of causation. There is, on the other hand, a theory of causation based on an ontology of real dispositions, where causation involves the passing around of powers. This theory in contrast entails that double prevention is not causation and, on this issue, it can claim a victory over the counterfactual dependence account.

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Author Profiles

Stephen Mumford
Durham University
Rani Anjum
University of Tromsø (PhD)

References found in this work

Nature's capacities and their measurement.Nancy Cartwright - 1989 - New York: Oxford University Press.
A realist theory of science.Roy Bhaskar - 1975 - New York: Routledge.
Scientific Essentialism.Brian Ellis - 2001 - New York: Cambridge University Press.
Getting Causes From Powers.Stephen Mumford & Rani Lill Anjum - 2011 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press. Edited by Rani Lill Anjum.

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